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Lawn Mowers Need Love, Too: Getting Ready for the Mowing Season

by Kelly Richardson, All About Lawns Columnist

Your mower is that romantic link between you and the lawn you love. So treat your machine with some basic care and repair before exposing it to the rigor of another mowing season. Not mechanically inclined? No worries. You need not be a professional mechanic to perform these simple tasks.

SAFETY TIP! Drain the fuel tank and disconnect the spark plug wire before beginning any maintenance procedures.

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Cleanliness Is Next to Healthiness

If you can't read the brand name on your lawn mower (i.e. Toro, John Deere, etc.), it definitely needs a bath. Clippings and grime that cake on throughout the season will decrease responsiveness and performance in most lawn mowers. A scouring soap and power sprayer is all you need. Use a screwdriver to pry stubborn grime from the undercarriage.

SAFETY TIP! Consult your owner's manual for specific advice on maintaining or repairing your brand of mower's engine.

The Little Engine that Could

Despite its complicated look, a lawn mower engine only has a few parts that need annual attention.

  • Change the Oil. Tip the mower on its side, remove the oil plug, and allow old oil to completely drain. Replace the oil filter. Then fill with new oil. Be sure to dispose of the old oil properly--just dumping it on the ground creates an environmental hazard and is illegal in many communities.
  • Replace Spark Plugs. Remove the old plug. Blow clear the connection point with pressurized air. Install new plugs, tightening slightly to avoid sticking.
  • Replace the Air Filter. If your mower requires a foam filter, soak it in oil and squeeze it out before installing.
  • Lubricate All Parts. Use WD40 and grease to lubricate all fittings and linkages.

    SAFETY TIP! Hire a professional technician to sharpen your mower blade.

    Sharp Blade, Sharp Lawn

    Believe it or not, a dull lawn mower blade can leave your grass susceptible to various diseases. Torn edges don't heal the way clean cuts do; don't make your lawn sick by ripping instead of clipping. Sharpen your blade at least once per year, depending upon your mowing frequency. If there are noticeable nicks in the blade, replace it completely.

    Small acts of kindness to your lawn mower can pay big dividends in the health, happiness, and beauty of your lawn this summer.

About the Author
Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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